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Pixar’s Use of Color Is Incredible

With Pixar‘s Inside Out warming the hearts of children and adults alike, we thought we’d do our darnedest to find things that celebrate the wonderful work they do. In saying that, we know this video has been out for a few months, but it doesn’t make it any less beautiful.

The use of color in film is incredibly important and can be used to convey more information than we might not immediately realize. With this supercut of scenes with distinct color schemes across many Pixar films, it becomes abundantly clear that they absolutely know the palettes they work with. When framing a real-life shot, you can control a lot of aspects of it — set design, lighting, blocking of the characters within it — but unless you’re creating sets for every single frame of the movie, there are things you can’t control. Sure a filmmaker can search for the right locations for what they want to film but the real world can have some drawbacks. Pixar movies have the opportunity — and simultaneously the daunting task — to create every single thing you see in their movies. They create the world you see down to the most minute detail and with that, they can control more of what you see and how you see it.

ROYGBIV: A Pixar Supercut from Rishi Kaneria

Pixar’s use of color sets the entire mood of the scenes and can be used consistently throughout. If the lighting has a certain hue, its use through a scene is held steady making for cohesive moments. We’re never pulled out of scene due to poor lighting. The locations they create often have steady and deliberate color throughout which allows us to focus on exactly what they intend us to zero in on. When our main characters are bathed in that similar color in a scene, it’s usually in a situation where they are on edge, don’t necessarily belong, or are flat-out in danger (think the red of Toy Story 3’s incinerator, the shadows of Wall-E and the trash compactor, and the greens in the witch scene from Brave). 

This can often be combined with a striking contrast of color in our main characters which further allows – nay, makes – us pay attention to exactly what the filmmakers intended. A dangerous sequence like the jellyfish scene in Finding Nemo have Marlin and Dory as the only contrasting colors in an endless field of pink. Similarly, the chase scene in The Incredibles where Dash really lets loose has him dressed in his red super suit surrounded almost entirely by the very green jungle.

The use of a proper color palette in a movie is lot more vital than we often realize. The worlds that Pixar is able to create are able to use color almost as a supporting character to each movie that is capable of relaying more feeling to scenes than a traditional film wouldn’t normally be able to.

What do you think of ROYGBIV? What are some of your favorite uses of color and contrast in Pixar films? Let us know in the comments below!

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